The Chamber of Commerce has called for a pathway to citizenship for foreign workers as a way of keeping them in Malta.

In a set of Budget proposals presented to the prime minister, the chamber also urged the government to mitigate a shortage of workers, with another proposal being a streamlining of quarantine procedures for those travelling from specific countries. It said testing and vaccination facilities would be provided within Maltese embassies in 'corridor countries' with frequent direct flight connections to Malta as well as to the third countries of interest to Malta.

The Chamber also proposed that seven days of quarantine leave for non-vaccinated employees should be taken from personal leave, excluding justified cases on medical grounds. The proposal follows call for all workers to opt for vaccination.

Chamber officials met Prime Minister Robert Abela on Monday. The president, Marisa Xuereb, said next month's budget needs to determine the country’s foreseeable future by addressing immediate challenges.

“The Chamber once again calls on government not to embark on a populist agenda, a so-called electoral budget, but one which directs the economy towards recovery with difficult decisions expected to be made in 2022” she said. 

The discussion included a presentation by the Chamber’s CEO Marthese Portelli about key proposals pushed by The Malta Chamber, based on economic growth and recovery, good governance, human capital and education, digitalisation, sustainability, and internationalisation.

The Chamber's key proposals include:

• Addressing the constant increase in public sector employment. The chamber said it runs contrary to business competitiveness to have a situation where the government is indirectly soliciting workers from the private sector. It proposed the secondment of under-employed people to the private sector and limiting employment in the public sector one year prior to the Constitutional expiration period to call a general election.

• Addressing the reduction of administrative burdens and bureaucracy for enterprises, by addressing the need to streamline cross-governmental departmental data and making support and funding schemes more business friendly.

• Establishing a centralised due diligence body with all the necessary intelligence, access rights and international connections to evaluate every new investor / shareholder / UBO (Ultimate Beneficial Owner) before they are allowed to have business interests in Malta.

• A demographic carrying capacity analysis to map out solutions for spatial development and planning, labour market and economic vision.

• A revision of electricity night tariffs to assist industry and retail. Night tariffs, the Chamber said, should be available at a lower energy consumption threshold and the advantage of the night tariff over the daytime rate needs to be higher. It also suggested an extension of the night tariff from the current bracket of 10pm to 6am to at least 10pm to 8am.  

  

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